I am one of “those” people. Christmas People. I love Christmastime and plan and dream about Christmas festivities for months ahead of time. You will hear Christmas music from November until New Years at my house. It is my goal to get the perfect gift for everyone on my list. I try to coordinate plenty of Christmas activities for the whole family. And I
usually always end up going overboard on everything.
I know we are barely into November, but I have already started a few things to get ready for the holidays. We have Claire’s birthday next week, Vivian’s in December, and Thanksgiving squeezed in between. Not to mention multiple branches of family to celebrate with across three different cities. So it is very helpful to get a huge chunk of to-dos completed before the holiday rush. That way I can enjoy my favorite time of year!
Here are a few things I do early every year:
I make an effort to shop for holiday gifts throughout the year. If I see something small that someone on my list would like, I go ahead and grab it. If I notice a large gift on sale, and I think that is going to be the best deal between now and Christmas, I go ahead and purchase it. I keep an inventory on my phone of what I already have, so that I don’t end up getting too much for one person.
Once Christmas is getting close, I make a budget. I make a list of what I have already bought and what I need to buy. I list all the people for whom we purchase gifts and about how much we usually spend on them. Then I list all the other little things that add up like gift wrap, cards and postage, new ornaments or decorations, Christmas pajamas, food for parties or get-togethers, and activities. Travel expenses or airfare may need to be added to the budget for those who travel long distances over the holidays.
Next up is my favorite part! I make a list of gift ideas for each person or family we exchange gifts with. It is so fun coming up with presents that people will love. Like I said, some of these are purchased ahead of time to avoid feeling rushed the week before Christmas.
Buying your Christmas cards is another easy thing to check off your to-do list early. Many places have sales or deals as early as September! And this way you can address a few cards to a time and it doesn’t seem like as much of a chore. I have also written out addresses on labels ahead of time if I wasn’t able to order the cards early. (This comes in handy if you don’t take your pictures until later in the year.) Then I could just stick the labels on and be done with it.
I tend to do a lot of baking around the holidays, so I try to remember to whip up some cookie dough to stick in the freezer in October or November. That way we can spend more time decorating (and eating!) the cookies in December. It helps to have part of it already done if you bake a lot. This gingerbread dough, this butter cookie dough for spritz cookies, and this chocolate crinkle cookie dough all freeze well and are favorites around here.
I also double a few meals throughout October so that I can freeze them. This way we have something easy on hand for busy December nights.
If we are hosting any parties or get-togethers around the holidays, I plan out everything food-wise ahead of time. I make a menu and a shopping list for that menu, then make sure I have enough serving dishes and decide whether I can use everyday dishes, break out the china, or need to use disposable dinnerware.
With so many Christmas parties and activities and so many family members to visit around the holidays, it is best to plan out your December calendar ahead of time. It is a nightmare to realize you overbooked yourself or forgot about an activity all together. I make sure to write down any Christmas parties, school activities, get-togethers with friends, and community events we attend in my calendar. We usually travel to visit family and/or have family travel to visit us, so that requires planning and coordinating ahead to time as well.
I have made the mistake of leaving our present-wrapping until the last minute in years past. Never again. That is just not something I want to stress about a day or two before Christmas. Since we buy gifts early, we now have the tradition of setting aside one night in early to mid December to wrap gifts. Joey and I make an appetizer plate for dinner (my favorite kind of dinner) and have drinks and watch a couple of Christmas movies to make it like a “wrapping party.”